NGC Certifies Unique Overstrike
Posted on 7/1/2004
unique example of the 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar,
struck over a previously struck 1794 silver dollar,
has been graded and encapsulated by NGC as AU-53.
Fewer than 2,000 silver dollars were issued in 1794. Since nearly all of these coins were weakly struck, owing to the inadequacy of the Mint's press, coining stopped very quickly. When a more powerful press was obtained the following year, production resumed with dies bearing the 1795 date.
It is believed that this specimen was one of those 1794-dated dollars that was withheld from release. Rather than being destroyed, it was evidently recycled as a planchet for the 1795 dies, though it appears no effort was made to efface the earlier coin, which is plainly visible at numerous points. The reverse of the 1794 dollar is visible within and around Liberty's portrait on the 1795 overstrike, while several features of the 1794 obverse die may be seen underneath the 1795 dollar's reverse. Among these are some stars to the right of Liberty's bust on the 1794 obverse die. The unique positioning of these stars, with two points toward the border rather than the single points of 1795 dies, reveal identification of the undertype. The positioning of leaves in relation to the right stem and the final A of AMERICA on the reverse from the 1794 strike provide additional confirmation of the undertype. Exactly why this coin was produced is not known. It is probably not, however, a mint error and was likely an intentional strike produced in 1795.
This coin, while not a new discovery, has been little publicized since its discovery in 1961 by the late Walter Breen. It has appeared for public sale only once, and to this day it is believed to be unique. It has never been certified or encapsulated until receiving its AU-53 grade from NGC, which also labeled it as Bowers-Borckardt variety 14 under NGC's VarietyPlus Service. BB-14 is quite rare in AU condition, though the unique overstrike feature of this coin places it in another category entirely.
Irrespective of its appeal as a great rarity, this specimen is quite attractive. Just lightly worn and retaining much of its mint luster, both sides display splendid toning of medium pewter gray.
"It is extremely exciting when a coin of this magnitude and history is certified," observed NGC Chairman and CEO Mark Salzberg. "To be able to boldly see the understruck portion of the 1794 Dollar on a coin of such quality is certainly a numismatic highlight."